Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: Gregory & the Hawk / Nicole Atkins & the Sea @ TT the Bear's, 11/13

TT's booked quite the double-whammy two Thursdays ago with Gregory and the Hawk at the opener spot and Nicole Atkins at headliner to clear the bases, so to speak. Besides the fact that the two acts reside on opposite ends of the music spectrum,—GATH is to acoustic fantastical voyage as Nicole Atkins is to blowout Fourth of July bash—the bill also served as a prime example of what the music industry looks like today. Indie Label Duo, meet Major Label Diva (Mainstream Radio Airplay has never become aquainted with either.).

Gregory and the Hawk, the endearing Mike and Meredith, took the stage armed with just guitar and bass. They played a relatively short set of songs from their debut full-length album, the impressive Moenie and Kitchi. It was strange to hear the songs in a stripped down, live form; Meredith's vocals were true to their unusual, in-the-clouds character on the album, carrying favorites "Doubtful" and "Grey Weather." The surprise standout had to be "Stone Wall Stone Fence," in which Meredith seemed to channel a doll come to life coming to kill you in your sleep: "You've got a secret / But you won't share it..." GATH could not go wrong with so many strong tracks, but some kind of percussion could really add to their set (and allow them to play my favorite, "Voice Like a Bell"!).

Next came Salt & Samovar, rockers with Americana flair (and half of them part of Nicole Atkins' band, the Sea). They brought the house with their energetic folk gone wild, a nice lead-in to Nicole Atkins & the Sea's full-blown set.

The natural chemistry among Atkins and her band revealed itself from the get-go; you got the sense that this is what major label players look and sound like in the year 2008: tight, cool, natural and confident. And how satisfying it is to anticipate a big note and watch Atkins do it justice and then some with a knockout punch. Yes, a Nicole Atkins concert is a lot like fighting the computer on Easy with Roy Jones Jr. in Fight Night.

There were too many rad moments to count, but singles "Maybe Tonight" and heartbreakers' anthem "The Way It Is" stood out, along with sing-along anthem "Brooklyn's on Fire!," all off of 2007's Neptune City. Non-album cuts "Skywriters" and "Teen Creep" were favorites of mine as well - I'm a sucker for falsetto over a retro beat. We were sold on Atkins' big voice and theatrical arm waving easily enough; she made each song a celebration even when it wasn't ("If I were smart I'd never / Call you, call you ever again").

Not a bad night for ten bucks.

- Jessy Bartlett

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